Category: Leadership

Self-Esteem and Leadership

Imagine being told:

“You need to improve your presence.”
“Why can’t you think on your feet?”
“You don’t do well with conflict, do you?”
“You’re being defensive.”

As you move beyond your emotional reaction, you might ask if low self-esteem contributes to these statements. Is it theirs or yours?

What is self-esteem? Nathaniel Branden, the acclaimed author of The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem” defines self-esteem as a combination of self-confidence and self-respect. In other words, if you have good self-esteem you feel competent and you feel valuable. Who doesn’t want to feel like that? That is, I can get the job done and I am worthy of the job.

Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself. As a leader how you feel about yourself impacts everything you do in your leadership role.

If you have high self-esteem, you’ll be more effective in having difficult conversations, delivering persuasive presentations, taking tough decisions and helping others course correct. People will see you as approachable, emotionally grounded and courageous. More of a leader!

You’ll have better relationships, be happier and be more motivated.

How can you improve your self-esteem? Stay tuned for my next blog post.

OK, one tip: hang out with others who have high esteem (and who you respect). It’s contagious!

How to Improve Your Self-Esteem

“Low self esteem is like driving through life with your hand brake on.”
— Maxwell Max —

If you don’t want to drive through life with your hand brake on, here are 8 tips on how to build your self-esteem:

1. Hang out with people who have high self-esteem. Listen to how they talk about themselves. Watch how they interact with others. Model their behaviours.

2. Turn negative self-talk into positive self-talk. In preparing for an upcoming presentation, you may think: “I’m going to get shot down.” Transform this into: “This is a great learning opportunity.”

3. Ask others for feedback. Make sure they give you some kudos. When you get constructive feedback, don’t take it as a slight (you did ask after all!). Look for the gift card. We all have “lesser strengths”, so hone in on new behaviours you need to adopt.

4. Ask for help. Rather than beating yourself up because you’re drowning in admin work or you can’t turn on a dime for someone, ask a respected peer how they handle similar challenges.

5. Set realistic goals. Stop comparing yourself to others. What’s achievable for you? When you achieve your goals, reward yourself.

6. Take accountability for your actions. Stop blaming your parents, your siblings or the boss from hell three jobs ago. As an adult, what you do and how you feel is your responsibility.

7. Stick to the Golden Rule. By treating others the way you want to be treated, for example, with caring and respect, they will respond in a like fashion. This will build your self-esteem.

8. Build your self-awareness and your self-knowledge. Do an inventory of your skills and strengths. Write down your personal and work accomplishments in the past month or so. Maybe you started a fitness program and stuck to it or you coached a peer at work. Look for your successes.

Engagement: It’s Up to You!

How engaged are you?

Engagement refers to your loyalty, passion and commitment to your work. It is apparent in the extra effort you make to meet the needs of your colleagues and customers.

Candidly answer these 7 questions: Never, Sometimes or Often?

  1. I recommend my employer to others as a good place to work.
  2. I feel that I’m working to my potential in this job.
  3. I’m thinking of leaving my job.
  4. I put in an effort over and above what is expected of me.
  5. I always speak positively about my employer.
  6. I am committed to helping my employer achieve its business goals.
  7. I enjoy helping others in their work in my organization.

If you don’t have 7 “Oftens”, you would benefit from some career coaching.

As a leader, it is also useful to consider how your employees would answer these questions.

What impact do you have on their engagement? It’s up to you! Your leadership excellence is the most critical factor in creating employee engagement.

Specifically, how you:

  • set direction
  • build trust
  • foster accountability
  • provide growth opportunities
  • communicate about the good, bad and ugly
  • reward your staff.

The payback?

Engaged employees. Employees who are loyal, productive and satisfied. When you foster a culture of engagement, both you and your employees will be more successful.

How Can HR Add Value?

By pinpointing the skills, knowledge and behaviours that will drive your organization’s vision, values and direction. This is called competency modeling. It’s not just HR’s role. As a leader, you must ensure that you hire, train, coach and model the agreed to competencies in all your daily leadership activities.

The HR Reporter recently asked me to pen an article about the 9 steps we follow to develop a competency model.

Click the link below to access the full article and see how you can leverage competencies to improve your business.

Want to Build More Trusting Relationships? 5 Tips

In a recent Coaching for Results workshop, a senior leader complained that he had done everything right in coaching his employee: he assessed her performance against pre-agreed expectations; asked his employee for her views; gave timely, constructive feedback; and collaboratively developed a plan to move forward. Yet the employee’s performance continued to falter.

This was my cue to ask about their relationship and especially about the extent to which they trusted and respected each other. George (as I will call him) looked puzzled. I turned to the rest of the group and asked how many agree with the statement: “Without trust there can be no coaching”? (from “The Leader as Coach” by David B. Peterson and Mary Dee Hicks). All 21 participants quickly agreed that it was a true statement.

Trust is a critical competency for everyone in business today. In the recent book “Smart Trust” by Stephen M.R. Covey, Greg Link and Rebecca R. Merrill, the authors present a compelling “business case for trust”.

How can we build more trusting relationships with those around us?

Here are 5 tips:

  1. Show confidence in others’ skills and in their potential to grow and develop.
  2. Be open, honest and direct, especially when the going gets tough.
  3. Do what you say you will do: walk the talk.
  4. Respect confidences.
  5. Reveal your vulnerability: admit your mistakes and shortcomings.

As for “George”, he cited our discussion as a game-changing moment and publicly committed to stopping two behaviours that undermined his trustworthiness.

Having Difficult Conversations: 5 Tips

Do you dread difficult business conversations? Does anxiety prevent you from giving constructive feedback, challenging a colleague, communicating bad news or telling someone “no”? You’re not alone. It’s easy to avoid important discussions when you’re worried about navigating emotions and making matters worse.

There’s no need to delay those necessary talks – handling difficult conversations is a skill you can build.

Here are 5 tips to get you started:

  1. Be clear about the issue and your feelings. I’d like to discuss the deadline for this project. I’m very concerned that we’re going to miss the next key milestone.
  2. Explore their position. What’s your perspective? How do you see this?
  3. Listen, on a second level, to the feelings behind their words. It sounds like you’re frustrated that you’re not getting the support you need.
  4. Communicate respectfully and directly. We need to meet all the milestones in the project plan.
  5. Collaboratively problem-solve and ensure you have their commitment to take action. How can we ensure the next milestone is met? What ideas do you have? What will you do now?

Mastering these challenging exchanges will help you feel more confident under pressure, build better relationships and achieve your business goals.


How to Escalate Emotions

My last blog “Difficult Conversations – 5 Tips” struck a chord, loud and clear; many of you asked for more guidance. It seems that we all struggle when we’re in the eye of the storm, and most of us aren’t sure how to defuse challenging emotions during those tough moments.

This time, let’s look at the flip side and explore guaranteed ways to escalate conflicts and create even more angst for everyone involved.

7 Sure-Fire Ways to Escalate Emotions:

  1. Withdraw from the conversation. Maybe the conflict will resolve itself.
  2. Resort to email. Unless you use emoticons or upper case, it’s all neutral, right?
  3. Don’t listen. Interrupt and at all costs, avoid eye contact.
  4. Disrespect their position. Be sure to use the old standby: “I’m sorry that you feel this way, but….”
  5. Patronize: “Calm down.” “Take a deep breath.”
  6. Try a direct attack: “You’re always defensive.” “You need to be a team player.”
  7. Drag in other issues or people. “No one else other than you seems to be upset about this issue.”

Emotions – especially frustration, negativity and anger – are contagious. Your efforts to stay grounded and objective will help everyone stay calm. Above all, listen, listen, listen!

Prepping for Performance Reviews – 7 Derailers

What’s your experience with performance reviews? Positive and constructive? Or frustrating and stressful?

In our 20+ years of performance management consulting, we’ve learned that whether you’re the appraiser or appraisee, there are seven derailers that you need to avoid:

    1. Assessments based on assumptions and generalizations, not fact
    2. No input from the appraisee
    3. Focusing on only good or bad news
    4. No action plans developed
    5. Vague, general business objectives and development goals
    6. Old issues stored up for the annual review
    7. No follow-up after the face-to-face conversation

Turn the annual event into a productive, meaningful event and pave the way for enhanced personal and business results in 2014.

Delivering Difficult Feedback?

Many of you commented that my blog “Prepping for Performance Reviews – 7 Derailers” will help make your performance reviews more constructive.

You asked: How do you give difficult feedback so it’s actionable?  What if your employees don’t accept your input? How can you help them not be defensive or emotional?

We recommend being coach-like. Don’t tell your employees what to think, e.g. “You need to improve your interpersonal skills.”  Ask questions.

5 powerful questions to encourage your employees to absorb difficult feedback:

  1. What about this feedback resonates with you?
  2. What surprises you or puzzles you?
  3. Why do you think you are getting this input?
  4. How do you want to address it?
  5. What can I do to support you?

In our experience when employees absorb difficult feedback, they understand it better and are more motivated to act on it.

Fatal Flaws of Leaders

What are the most common weaknesses of leaders? How do you compare?

A recent survey of 545 senior managers in three different organizations by the firm Zenger Folkman reveals some fascinating insights:

The data reveals that the most prevalent “fatal flaws” of these leaders are: developing and motivating others, building relationships and teamwork. Ironically as leaders climb the corporate ladder, these skills become increasingly important, as opposed to setting goals, developing strategy or driving results.

The good news is that after receiving coaching 75% of the lowest rated leaders improved their behaviours as determined by subsequent 360° surveys.

What do you need to focus on? Would coaching help you improve your leadership effectiveness?

CORE offers a 360° tool that evaluates 16 key leadership competencies and a full suite of leadership training programs.  We would happy to set up a complimentary meeting to discuss your needs.